Tuberculosis: 17 Questions and Answers
Confused About Tuberculosis Headlines? Get the Facts
How is TB treated?
"Ninety-five percent of people
will respond to the combination of the four first-line drugs -- isoniazid,
rifampin, pyrazinamide, ethambutol," Hamilton says.
Drug-resistant tuberculosis is
rarer and XDR TB is rarer still, affecting "a few cases per year" in
the U.S., Hamilton says.
"But in other countries, it's
really increasing," Hamilton says. "So it is true that it's not that
far away. Our TB program budgets have been cut every year, and so we get less
and less able to respond to this sort of thing."
Hamilton also warns that "if
our regular TB cases aren't managed appropriately and aggressively, they can
become drug resistant. While we don't want to engender panic, it's a real
What about surgery?
Surgery may be done to remove
damaged areas of the lungs if drug treatments fail for XDR TB.
Speaker got lung surgery on July
17 to remove parts of his lung affected by tuberculosis. The operation was
performed at the University of Colorado Hospital at the Anschutz Medical Campus
in Aurora, Colo., by John D. Mitchell, MD, chief of general thoracic surgery at
the University of Colorado Hospital.
Speaker's operation was done with
a minimally invasive technique called video-assisted thoracic surgery
In VATS, surgeons access the lung
through a 2-inch incision in the patient's side, as well as two incisions (each
1-centimeter long) for surgical instruments and a tiny, fiberoptic
The infected part of Speaker's
lung has been described as roughly the size of a tennis ball, notes the
National Jewish Medical and Research Center.
Marvin Pomerantz, MD, director of
the Center for the Surgical Treatment of Lung Infections at the University of
Colorado at Denver Health Sciences Center, tells WebMD that he wouldn’t call
lung surgery a last resort.
“I'd call it part of the overall
treatment of the difficult cases of tuberculosis," with more antibiotic
treatment after the operation, Pomerantz says.
What transatlantic flights did Speaker take?
According to the CDC, he flew on
two transatlantic flights in May:
- Air France flight 385 (Delta
co-share flight 8517): Departed Atlanta on May 12, arrived in Paris on May
- Czech Airlines flight 0104:
Departed Prague, Czech Republic on May 24, arriving in Montreal on the same
What should passengers on those flights do?
Call the CDC at 800-CDC-INFO for
information on tuberculosis testing.
Passengers likely to be at highest
risk for potential tuberculosis transmission during those flights were sitting
in Speaker's row and in the two rows in front or behind him, notes
CDC Director Julie Gerberding, MD, MPH.
Gerberding says the CDC has
been in touch with 74 U.S. citizens and residents on the Air France/Delta
flight, including all 26 passengers who were believed to be sitting in the
high-risk rows around Speaker's seat.